Why was the Office of War Information created in 1942?

1 Answer
Feb 21, 2018

To encourage the US population to get behind the war effort


Prior to Pearl Harbour US public opinion was largely against any US participation in WW2, Roosevelt had the foresight to see what a global threat Germany was and had been stretching the boundaries of neutrality to extremes in support of Britain, the attack at Pearl Harbour propelled America into part of the war and Hitlers declaration of war on the US a few days later brought her in fully.

The administration wanted to make the main focus of the war against Germany but the outrage of domestic opinion after Pearl was for a Japan first policy

Coupled to this the experiences of WW1 propaganda had shown that controlling information flow to the public was a powerful tool in building and sustaining public support for the war (dont forget just a few years before US Policy had been isolationist and the slogan "not another Doughboy should die in a foreign war" was commonplace)

So the OWI was set up to ensure that the media were "on point" with the message and that bad news was handled in a way that minimised any negative morale effect and good news handled in a way that it emphasised the continued need for hard work and effort

The OWI covered both Domestic and Foreign Propaganda, movies like "Rosie the Riveter" is well known and designed to encourage women into the workforce later when the war was clearly won the emphasis shifted to encouraging women to return to more traditional roles to prepare for the return of servicemen

The OWI also controlled physiological warfare and was active in every theatre of war with examples being being the 180 million leaflets prepared and dropped on the enemy, more subtle efforts like Operation Annie with was a Us radio station pretending to be a German one and undermined German morale

The Foreign activities of the OWI were by and large transferred to the CIA when the OWi was disbanded in 1945